Flagstaff to Tusayan, mile 588.7-692.4

Baloo dropped us off where he picked us up in Flagstaff. We walked one block and ducked into a Taco Bell for a pee, then breakfast burritos, then iced coffees. We were back on the trail/sidewalk soon, though, and a few miles later the city was a distant memory. We walked through pleasant wooded trails, passing joggers and mountain bikers, until the Flagstaff Urban Trail joined the main Arizona Trail and we were alone again. The sky, so sunny earlier this morning, clouded over. The temps dropped as we climbed up to 9000 ft. We stopped for water in the early evening and became so cold we decided to look for a campsite and hunker down. Another mile and a half down the trail, we set up our tent, crawled into our sleeping bags, and wondered how much it would snow.

We woke up to below freezing temps and a thin layer of white, which melted quickly in the morning sun. As we started hiking, we realized we accidentally camped at the highest elevation possible. The trail wound gradually downhill for miles. By noon we looked back and saw snowy Mt Humpheries far in the distance.

Leaving the San Francisco peaks, the trail became flatter and drier. Suddenly it was hot and sunny and we had nothing but dirt road yawning before us. This was Babbitt Ranch, land of 30-mile water carries.

We tanked up at a funky stock tank with water that looked neon yellow. At a trailhead water cache, we found two liters of public water that tasted like they’ve been there for a year. Our next water source was 20 miles away.

We walked along the dirt road for an hour after sunset, enjoying the cool temps. There was a long straight section and then some hills with short trees, a little privacy from the pickups driving by in the morning, so we ducked over and cowboy camped. We’d hiked 29.2 miles, late start and all.

The next day was more of the same: flat, dry, and cruisey. We pulled a 30. I noticed and appreciated all the different parts of my body: fat that fuels me, muscles that propel me, tendons and ligaments that support me and keep me upright. I noticed a small blister next to my big toe, how tight my shoulder is, how rigid my back muscles have become. I felt very happy.

We hiked until dark, slept soundly, and in the morning caught our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon.

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